Lisa Westermark recalls the story of a young woman – just 47 – whose ailing knees meant she was unable to pick up her grandchildren, or even carry a purse because of the impact the extra weight had on her hurting knees.
After waiting three years, the knee replacement surgery at Vernon Jubilee Hospital has changed her life. “She was in constant pain, but Dr. Dooley gave her her life back,” says Westermark, Executive Director with the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation.
It’s stories like those that make the 31st annual Light A Bulb campaign so powerful.
This year, as North Okanagan residents watch the red bulbs light up across the prominently displayed Christmas tree atop the hospital, it will represent donations toward six state-of-the-art anaesthesia machines for the hospital’s operating rooms and Ambulatory Care Unit. Replacing the anaesthesia machines is a vital part of the larger campaign OPERATION: Surgical Care for Life.
The potential impact is vast
The $275,000 campaign will support the work of surgeons to reduce wait times for non-emergency surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements, to 26 weeks or less. Today it can be a year or longer. Sometimes, patients even have to be referred to other hospitals.
“This campaign has the potential to really make a quantum leap forward for patients in the North Okanagan,” Westermark says. “Receiving faster care will enhance people’s quality of life, and prevent other long-term issues. The longer patients have to wait for surgery, the higher the risk to develop other medical or even mental problems.”
The catchment area for the Vernon Jubilee Hospital includes roughly 80,000 people and reaches as far as Lake Country, Enderby, Falkland and Lumby. Patients are referred to Vernon from Salmon Arm and Revelstoke for specialty procedures.
Last year, surgeons at VJH conducted over 8,000 procedures. This would mean that roughly 1 in 10 people in our area has been in the hospital for some kind of surgical procedure.
Campaign builds community connections
Whether it’s the visual reminder standing tall over the city or the holiday theme, Light A Bulb is special among the foundation’s donors.
“People from across the community will contribute anywhere from $25 to $30,000,” Westermark says.
“We have a number of people come in with their donations and visit, which we look forward to every year,” she adds. “Often we’ll hear about their connection with the hospital and why the campaign is important to them. It really is very special.”
Since 1988, Light A Bulb campaign has raised more than $4.8 million to purchase medical equipment for Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Community donations have funded vital equipment such as a fleet of endoscopes, a CT scanner, cardiac monitors and stress testing equipment, ventilators, an operating table and surgical equipment, birthing beds and much more.
“We couldn’t be more grateful. We’re just so fortunate that the people throughout the North Okanagan feel this is their hospital. In the true spirit of the holiday, they’re also thinking about their family, friends and neighbours who might be helped, not just themselves. It’s pretty amazing.”
The Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation is a charitable society that supports health care in the North Okanagan by raising funds for Residential Care Facilities, Community Health Services and Vernon Jubilee Hospital. Learn more and donate today at vjhfoundation.org.